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Telecom giant Vodafone has brought in Martin Pieters — former managing director (MD) and chief executive officer (CEO) of its Indian arm — to work on the proposed merger of Vodafone India with Idea Cellular.

Group Chief Vittorio Colao is likely to brief all business heads of the Indian arm over a conference call next week about the merger. “Pieters has reached India to oversee the proposed merger of Vodafone India with Idea Cellular. Vittorio will brief all business heads of Vodafone India over a conference call on the merger on February 24,” said a source. Vodafone declined to comment.

Idea Cellular shares tumbled today after posting its first ever quarterly loss as rival Reliance Jio’s entry forced it to cut tariffs, eroding margins.

Idea Cellular was trading down 3.5% at Rs 106.5, after opening at the day’s low of Rs 102, against the advance in the benchmark indices. BSE Sensex was trading firm at 28,450.42 points, up 0.41%.

Idea Cellular on Thursday said it has enabled a USSD-based platform for shopkeepers and customers to conduct digital transactions using Idea Money service.

USSD is mobile short code that enables financial and banking transactions even on feature phones.

Mumbai: Details emerging of early talks between Vodafone India Ltd and Idea Cellular Ltd indicate that Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla could be chairman of the merged entity.

Two people familiar with the talks between the two said the merged entity would likely have 12 directors on its board—three from either side and six independent ones. Neither wished to be identified because the talks are at a very preliminary stage.

Telecom major Vodafone has appointed professional services firms Deloitte and EY to carry out due diligence for the proposed merger of its India business with Idea Cellular, ET Now reported citing unidentified sources. Both the companies have set up the teams for due diligence and expect to complete it in next three-four weeks, ET Now said.

Earlier last week, India’s second-largest telecommunication services provider Vodafone confirmed it is in talks for an all-share merger with the third-largest operator Idea Cellular, in the first consolidation move in the Indian telecom industry reeling under the pressure of intense competition from Reliance Jio’s free service offers.

Zee Digital Convergence’s live TV platform, dittoTV today said it has partnered with Idea Cellular for its flagship entertainment app Idea Movie Club to offer telecom operator’s subscribers access to a bouquet of over 90 live TV channels. “Through the partnership, Idea Cellular, the country’s third largest telecom operator, offers its subscribers a subscription of dittoTV bundled with its data recharges and Movie Club packs,” it said in a statement.

Idea Cellular’s share price surged nearly 30% intra-day on Monday after the telecom company said it was contemplating a merger with Vodafone India, the country’s second-largest mobile telephony player. The stock gained 25.9% before closing the session at Rs 97.95. This is the biggest single-day gain for the telecom player’s shares since its listing in 2007. The stock has risen by 44% in the last seven sessions on speculation it might consider a merger with Vodafone India.

Telecom majors Idea Cellular and Bharti Airtel are leading gains on NSE as stocks rise on abetting concerns from heightened competition from Reliance Jio.

Bharti Airtel was trading up 3.72% at Rs 335.8, after rising to a high of 339.7; while Idea Cellular was up 6.86% at Rs 83.35 after rising to a high of Rs 85.

Terming the overall Points of Interconnect (PoI) situation as ‘better’ than before, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said Vodafone and Idea Cellular are meeting norms in all circles.

For Bharti Airtel, the congestion level is beyond the permissible limit in eight circles.

Network provider, Idea Cellular has said that it has partnered with the e-commerce platform Flipkart to bring special offers for consumers. This move by Idea is in continuation with the tariff wars, ever since Reliance Jio has disrupted the Indian telecom market with its free data and free calling offers. In the new offer by Idea, it will offer 15GB data at the at the price rate of 1GB for its customers.

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